What Do You Know About AllSaints, The British Brand With An East London Essence?
This British contemporary label has made its way to Southeast Asia, so #TeamCLEO had an inside chat on style and brand-building for the region.
Image Courtesy of AllSaints
If you see someone wearing a leather jacket on the streets when you’re in London, its most probably from AllSaints.
Known for being contemporary chic and with a flair of individualism, this British fashion brand established their first presence in Asia in South Korea in around 2014. Five years after, after being in carefully handpicked major Asian cities such as Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul of course, the brand decided to venture into other parts of Asia. To begin with their new foray into South East Asia, Kuala Lumpur was chosen to kick-start their journey-to-the-east with.
Instead of opening up a standalone flagship store, it seemed like a smarter business decision to team up with a renowned fashion group, Bluebell Malaysia and local fashion retailer, Parkson and opened up an 800 square feet retail space in Parkson Elite Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, a mandatory prime location for fashion brands to set foot at.
Connie Yeow, The Executive Advisor for Asia Travel Retail and Franchise for AllSaints and a Taiwan-based Singaporean, flew down to officiate the opening and launch of the brand and we managed to sit down with her as she walked us through the brand story and what are their strategies in wowing the Malaysian market.
Would you please introduce AllSaints to the Malaysian readers or market?
AllSaints originates from East London, and when you think of East London, you’ll think of artistic talents and street arts, lots of graffitis. Hence the vibe of East London is very much about the celebration of independence. Speaking of which, there are 3 main key words for the brand: creativity, attitude and individuality, which you can really see how the brand has encapsulated the essence and the characters of the city.
The brand is quite young with a history of only more than two decades. Malaysia being the fourth stop in Asia and this is a journey for us to discover the new market and hopefully this will bring the brand closer to our customer.
Why was Malaysia chosen as the first stop in South East Asia?
AllSaints first entered the Asian market in about five years ago, we began our business with South Korea. Of course we often get the questions of why South Korea instead of Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan or China and the rest of Asian countries will follow. It’s really all about opportunities! We have a list of “must-be-there” list and Kuala Lumpur is among the top spots in the list. This is also mainly because of the opportunities we have with our working partners. So here we are.
How would AllSaints speak to the Malaysian market as a fashion brand that’s new to them?
Coming from the origin of the brand which is East London, we believe that it resonates with Malaysians who have studied or lived abroad, or simply the frequent travellers, which they might find the brand familiar. They must have come across or heard of the brand before but don’t know much about the it, especially when we are relatively new to the region. Being one of the key cities, Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant city and definitely a good place to set a presence where Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is a prime spot for fashion brands, which makes a perfect package.
One of the strategies that has helped us succeed is having many in store events such as exclusive collection previews for VIP, special events for trade partners, intimate media get-togethers and so on. One of the events that we have done before was in our Taiwan headquarters, we moved to a new premises where the office was beautifully done up and to celebrate that, we threw a very intimate private party just for the media and friends to celebrate with us. For that party we specifically mentioned that we didn’t want anyone to work or anything and it was mainly a housewarming party for everyone to have fun.
It all works from within?
Yes, internally, we have a special strategy where we call our salespersons stylists where they are encouraged to try on the clothes themselves, to style and have fun playing with it. From there they would be able to share their own personal experiences with the customers confidently. There is an AllSaints community on corporate social media platform where we regularly run styling contests to cultivate the creative environment among the team members and be creatively expressive with what they do.
The reason is simple. We don’t want to be just another fashion brand where the salesperson would just memorise the product details and inform the customers. Fashion products are very personal and it needs to be tried on in order to feel it personally. Therefore, we don’t provide uniform for our stylists but they are given wardrobe allowance where they are given the freedom to wear any pieces from the collection.
“[The] brand is constantly evolving. Since Asia is a new market for us, we wish to present the brand spirit of individuality.”
So how do you present the “East London” spirit locally?
Being an international brand, we always work with the regular global directives but I feel that the brand is constantly evolving. With that, I don’t mean that they are no rules at all but it’s more of like since Asia is a new market for us, we wish to present the brand spirit of individuality as we go along. For example, the brand first entered Taiwan, in order to merge the brand’s essence being a British fashion brand from East London and the artistic Taiwanese energy, we chose to host an event at the Huashan Cultural Park in Taipei, a place where the fashion crowds love to hang out at. For that event, we invited a graffiti artist from the UK to do illustrations on the spot and the local audience can interact with him for creative inspirations. We have also done similar events in Tokyo and Seoul, and who knows we might be doing something similar here in KL soon, but of course we have to first have a physical presence before anything else. We will have to first understand the local culture and what they are into then we are able to see what would resonate with them better and of course for better engagement.
How does AllSaints position the brand globally and locally?
We’re neither a fast fashion nor high street brand. We define ourselves to be a contemporary fashion brand and we are unique in the market where you hardly see a brand that has an equal ratio of menswear and womenswear. There are many mixed gender fashion brands in the market, for sure, where you will see many brands are having for example, a ratio of 70 womenswear to 30 menswear, whereas AllSaints is evenly split into a good half of womenswear and menswear.
We all know that AllSaints is well known for its iconic leather jackets. Besides that, what other signature pieces that we should look out for?
For womenswear, the dresses are our key pieces that come in several iconic silhouettes throughout the year in both seasons such as the body shaping dresses in knit jersey; silk dresses and at times we would have ruffles too, even in winter, you’ll see the asymmetrical cut long dresses. For menswear, the signature Hawaiian shirt would surface in every spring/summer. Last year, we did a Hawaiian shirt archive where we put up 16 prints on social media and got our fans to choose their favourites and we produced roughly 8 designs from what they have voted for, and all sold out. The denim jacket sells very well too. Despite the fact that we are not a “denim denim” brand, but our denims are doing very well with different cuts and silhouettes, mainly because they are a staple that will go well with your bikers, cardigan or even simple blouses or shirts. For leather jackets, we have seasonal colours with different fabrications such as suede and lightweight shearling in winter.
What are the top 3 items you must own from AllSaints?
#1 The biker jacket definitely, for both men and women. There are a few silhouettes, for example, we have the cargo as the corresponding style for both genders; bomber jackets are mainly for men to create casual look and not for women because it might not as cool the boys.
#2 The basic essentials like dresses for the girls and white shirts for men.
#3 The jeans as our jeans are body fitting and able to sculpt your body shapes perfectly well with great elasticity.
With these key pieces you can play around with your own wardrobe or you can mix and match within our own collections.
What are the future plans for the AllSaints in South East Asia, generally speaking?
Now that we have set foot in Kuala Lumpur, we are definitely going to stop by and establish our presence in Singapore after this. There are many Singaporeans who have studied and lived in the UK and the expats there would find the brand relevant to them too. Bangkok is on our watch list as well. I find that the city is full of creative energy and they are very fashion forward. They are fearless when it comes to fashion and arts.
“Being an international brand, we always work with the regular global directives but I feel that the brand is constantly evolving. With that, I don’t mean that they are no rules at all but it’s more of like since Asia is a new market for us, we wish to present the brand spirit of individuality as we go along.”
AllSaints turns 25 this year and to celebrate that, the new autumn collection is themed “Since 1994” and it revisited the timeless classic nostalgic 90s style of indie rock bands with sporty-meets-bohemian aesthetics and remixed layerings. As usual, you’ll still get to see a lot of their iconic pieces such as the hybrid M65 bomber jacket, floral dresses and washed denims. We have curated a few looks which we are in loved with: